Revisit Our Metrics
Keith Dennis is Senior Director of Consumer Member Engagement at The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). He is also a Board Member of the Beneficial Electrification League. The views expressed are solely his and not of the associated organizations.
Energy efficiency programs are widely acknowledged as one of the most important achievements of the energy industry. They have enjoyed widespread political and popular support when implemented in cost-effective ways that save consumers money.
Their success to date should be commended, and we should continue to avoid energy waste. But if we are going to match the success of the past, our energy efficiency programs will need to adapt to keep up with changes across the energy industry landscape.
Today's end-use energy efficiency programs are largely made up of legacy programs from the 1970s oil embargo era. Because energy security was a paramount concern, the policy driver for efficiency programs was conserving primary or total energy.
As concerns about climate change have come to the fore for many policymakers, energy efficiency programs increasingly have been used as a tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Department of Energy, "energy efficiency is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to combat climate change, clean the air we breathe, improve the competitiveness of our businesses and reduce energy costs for consumers."